Nicholas Ridley vs. John of the Cross

Will John of the Cross get “rid” of Ridley? Or will Nicholas Ridley “crucify” John of the Cross? These are the questions that emerge when an English martyr faces a Spanish mystic. Enjoy the last saintly square-off of the week and stay tuned for more Madness on Monday as Phillips Brooks takes on Simeon.

Yesterday it was Thomas Merton in a romp over Aelred 60% to 40%. The day wasn’t without controversy as the Supreme Executive Committee was forced to deny allegations of a “Payment for Placement” scheme involving Saint Louis of France (or Missouri).

LM RidleyNicholas Ridley

Nicholas Ridley was a leading voice in the Protestant movement in the English Church and was executed for heresy and treason in the reign of Queen Mary I. In 1547, during the reign of Edward VI, Ridley was named Bishop of Rochester. He worked with Thomas Cranmer to develop the 1549 Book of Common Prayer and was enthroned as Bishop of London in 1550. He was a tireless advocate for reformed doctrine and took part not only in its promotion but also in the prosecution of Catholic-minded bishops and clergy. Ridley gained royal notice and favor having preached with energy and zeal before King Henry VIII. Once Henry abandoned Rome, Ridley’s star rose even higher. He showed concern for the interior spirituality and moral fabric of individual churchmen and the wider Church as a whole. He was unburdened by theological depth and known more for the fiery energy with which he preached and taught. Writing on Roman Catholicism, he declared in his Piteous Lamentation on the State of England, “What word of God hath that devilish drab, for the maintenance of her manifold abominations, and to set to sale such merchandise wherewith, (alas, the madness of man!) the wicked harlot hath bewitched almost the whole world?”

As bishop, Ridley ordered altars to be removed from the churches of his diocese and replaced by spare tables for services of the Lord’s Supper. Ridley supported the dissolution of the monasteries and was fierce in his assault on religious imagery in churches, on the doctrines of purgatory, confession, and saints, and on other articles of Catholic faith.

He took part in a plot to remove Queen Mary from the throne in favor of Lady Jane Grey and preached that Queens Elizabeth and Mary were illegitimate and thus not true monarchs. It was for this treason that, after his excommunication for heresy, he was burnt at the stake on October 16, 1555. He was executed alongside fellow bishop, Hugh Latimer. (Cranmer’s execution for heresy followed five months later). Latimer famously said to Ridley before the execution, “Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day light such a candle by God’s grace in England as (I trust) shall never be put out.”

Collect for Nicholas Ridley (and Latimer and Cranmer)
Keep us, O Lord, constant in faith and zealous in witness, that, like your servant Nicholas Ridley, we may live in your fear, die in your favor, and rest in your peace; for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Robert Hendrickson

John_Cross1John of the Cross

Born in 1542, John of the Cross (Juan de Ypres y Alvarez) was a Spanish mystic, friar, poet, and priest. His father came from a wealthy family that disowned him because he married a woman beneath their social stature. When John’s father died soon after John’s birth, his family was left struggling in poverty. John would later say that the sacrifices of his youth taught him to have joy and peace in the midst of dire circumstances.

As a young adult, John studied at a nearby Jesuit college and later became a Carmelite friar and priest in 1577. Soon after, Teresa of Avila, a Carmelite nun, asked John to help her institute a series of reforms that would help return the Carmelite order to its original purpose of prayer and poverty. John agreed to take up her call and dedicated himself to greater prayer and self-sacrifice, including walking without shoes (as did other nuns and friars who sought a return to a deeper life of prayer). Those who participated in the reforms became known as “Discalced Carmelites” (or “Carmelites of Strict Observance”).

However, not everyone supported the reforms, and some of John’s fellow Carmelite friars kidnapped and imprisoned him in a 6×10-foot prison cell. Several times a week, John’s captors beat him. Even still, it was in the midst of his captivity that John wrote some of his most respected mystical writings, including poetry and spiritual commentary. Many of these writings reflected his dependence and journey to union with God. In The Dark Night of the Soul, one of John’s most well-known writings, John described the journey of feeling spiritually abandoned by God and how such a struggle can be a grace through which Christians can grow in faith and union with God.

After nine months in prison, John finally escaped and fled to a nearby convent. Over the course of his life, he traveled more than 30,000 miles and established more than eight monasteries across the Spanish countryside. John died in 1591 and was canonized a saint by Benedict XIII in 1726.

Collect for John of the Cross
Judge eternal, throned in splendor, you gave Juan de la Cruz strength of purpose and mystical faith that sustained him even through the dark night of the soul: Shed your light on all who love you, in unity with Jesus Christ our Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Maria Kane


Nicholas Ridley vs. John of the Cross

  • John of the Cross (79%, 3,956 Votes)
  • Nicholas Ridley (21%, 1,055 Votes)

Total Voters: 5,009

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131 Comments to "Nicholas Ridley vs. John of the Cross"

  1. Holly S.'s Gravatar Holly S.
    March 21, 2014 - 8:16 am | Permalink

    My Lent Madness criteria is completely subjective – which person inspires me more? So I understand people live within the confines of of their historical era, and the English church was in need of reform in the 1500s and Mary wasn’t fun queen, but Ridley’s bio seems to be more about what he was against than what he was for, and he seems more partisan than holy. I think I’d vote against him if he were battling St. Louis.

    That and St. John of the Cross is a mystic. Mystics always win, unless they are too astonishing.

    • Mary W.'s Gravatar Mary W.
      March 21, 2014 - 10:15 am | Permalink

      I’m with you. Maybe if he hadn’t persecuted the RC’s so much there wouldn’t have been such a backlash.

    • Cathy Cox's Gravatar Cathy Cox
      March 21, 2014 - 11:21 am | Permalink

      I agree re Ridley. Unfortunately, the most energetic reformers are often more focused on what they hate rather than on what they love – and they do very often throw out some of the best of what nourished them, although they usually deny that – Best novel about the English Reformation that I can remember is an old one – “The White Witch” – superb. Sympathetic to all – because of an awareness of the complexity of the whole –

      • Margaret's Gravatar Margaret
        March 21, 2014 - 12:41 pm | Permalink

        The write-up on Ridley is unfortunate, for it really misses out on the kindness of the man. It is hard for us to fathom the depth of corruption in the late medieval Church and the kind of power that bishops and abbots had. The Church in England controlled far more land and wealth than the government–and Bishops all pretty much had standing arms (which continued true for the Archbishop of Canterbury through the Reformation). It helps to not confuse post reformation clerics with that which came before.

        • Meggan's Gravatar Meggan
          March 23, 2014 - 3:59 pm | Permalink

          I should probably look up more about Ridley. I’m sure there was more to him than the what the write up depicted. If he had not been up against St. John of the Cross – one of my personal favorites – I probably would have sought out more information before I voted.

  2. Donna Wessel Walker's Gravatar Donna Wessel Walker
    March 21, 2014 - 8:17 am | Permalink

    “unburdened by theological depth” is not only snarky, it’s a mixed metaphor.

    • March 21, 2014 - 8:28 am | Permalink

      It’s not a mixed metaphor if you use Webster’s definition of depth to mean “intellectual complexity.” The Rev. Mr. Hendrickson might be too honest to play this game successfully, but grammatically incompetent he is not.

      • Donna Wessel Walker's Gravatar Donna Wessel Walker
        March 21, 2014 - 8:38 am | Permalink

        You’ve just cashed in the metaphor, which is fine but doesn’t fix the original problem within the metaphor itself. Since one cannot carry depth it cannot be a burden.

        • John Schoonover's Gravatar John Schoonover
          March 21, 2014 - 10:49 am | Permalink

          Well, you can’t “carry” sin either, but it sure is a burden.

          • Susan Tucker's Gravatar Susan Tucker
            March 21, 2014 - 4:58 pm | Permalink

            You go, Sister Mary Winifred and John!

        • Mary Wueste's Gravatar Mary Wueste
          March 21, 2014 - 12:39 pm | Permalink

          You’re being way to literal about this metaphor!

    • Lynda Moses's Gravatar Lynda Moses
      March 21, 2014 - 9:42 am | Permalink

      I loved that phrase “unburdened by theological depth.” It describes a lot of the noise we hear today from some people in churches.

    • Harriet's Gravatar Harriet
      March 21, 2014 - 10:45 am | Permalink

      It is just a perfect description, love it.

    • Martie Collins's Gravatar Martie Collins
      March 21, 2014 - 8:43 pm | Permalink

      So am I unburdened, but I had to vote for St. John, who was more positive.

    • Mike's Gravatar Mike
      March 21, 2014 - 11:09 pm | Permalink

      I thought it a rather hilarious comment about the theological knowledge Bishop Ridley possessed. Some might suggest that things have not changed much in 500 years.

  3. Jenny's Gravatar Jenny
    March 21, 2014 - 8:18 am | Permalink

    Easiest vote ever!

    St. Ridley did much to advance Anglicanism, but I cannot support the destruction of the monasteries and the loss of so much. His decided to “throw the baby out with the bathwater.” There was a need for reformation but did he need to tear it all down to reform it?
    “He was unburdened by theological depth and known more for the fiery energy with which he preached and taught.” Maybe if he was burdened with more theology and less rhetoric he would have accomplished more reform with less destruction.

    My vote – St. John of the Cross – the real saint.

    • Ginny's Gravatar Ginny
      March 21, 2014 - 8:25 am | Permalink

      That is what I was thinking as well. I understand that St. Ridley did what he thought was best, but he didn’t have to destroy their history as well.

    • Mollie Douglas Turner's Gravatar Mollie Douglas Turner
      March 21, 2014 - 9:59 am | Permalink

      Hear, hear!

    • March 21, 2014 - 3:28 pm | Permalink

      What they said! My vote is with the mystic!

  4. Peg's Gravatar Peg
    March 21, 2014 - 8:19 am | Permalink

    Ditto, Holly!

  5. Mary Smith's Gravatar Mary Smith
    March 21, 2014 - 8:22 am | Permalink

    Except for my bracket’s completeness, I would vote for neither.

    • sue's Gravatar sue
      March 21, 2014 - 8:26 am | Permalink

      my feeling too

    • Lisa Y's Gravatar Lisa Y
      March 21, 2014 - 9:48 am | Permalink

      which is exactly what I did (or didn’t do yesterday).

    • Sara's Gravatar Sara
      March 21, 2014 - 1:17 pm | Permalink

      Too bad there isn’t a write in vote . . .

  6. Phil's Gravatar Phil
    March 21, 2014 - 8:24 am | Permalink

    I agree with these comments. Ridley seems to prove live by prosecution and the axe die by prosecution and the axe.

  7. Robin's Gravatar Robin
    March 21, 2014 - 8:31 am | Permalink

    “unburdened by theological depth” (Ridley)…. OW!

  8. Anne's Gravatar Anne
    March 21, 2014 - 8:33 am | Permalink

    Um… what happened to John’s wife? Please tell me she had died or something before he took on monastic life and that he didn’t abandon her. That would be a hit against him, I’m afraid.

    • Anne's Gravatar Anne
      March 21, 2014 - 8:44 am | Permalink

      Nevermind. I just reread and saw that it was John’s FATHER who was disowned by his family for marrying beneath him. Apologies, please disregard!!!!

      • Bowman's Gravatar Bowman
        March 21, 2014 - 9:27 am | Permalink

        No excuses. This is Lent. You’ll have to spend the rest of the day in the House of Virgins 😉

      • Rev. Elsa Pressentin's Gravatar Rev. Elsa Pressentin
        March 21, 2014 - 10:50 am | Permalink

        Don’t feel alone Anne….. I did the same thing! Had to go back and re-read to discover that it was John’s father who had married …. Are we reading too fast?

  9. Nancy of Richmond's Gravatar Nancy of Richmond
    March 21, 2014 - 8:34 am | Permalink

    “Unburdened by theological depth. ” what a great phrase. Nevertheless, I like Ridley’s involvement in creating the prayer book, his rejection of the pomp and hocus pocus that still seem to enthrall the clergy and turn off many laypeople, and his concern for individual spiritual health. He was a brave man engaged in his world willing to die for his beliefs. I’m with him this time, maybe because other factors make him such an underdog.

  10. Joy Segal's Gravatar Joy Segal
    March 21, 2014 - 8:38 am | Permalink

    Again, a very personal vote for John of the Cross. The Dark Night of the Soul was a lifeline for me at a time in my life when I felt lost and alone. I don’t think Ridley’s bio did him justice though. Just saying.

    • Karen Pearson's Gravatar Karen Pearson
      March 21, 2014 - 9:34 am | Permalink

      I know that Ridley helped write the second version of the BCP, but his actions sound like those of a fanatic. Of course, there were plenty of them during those turbulent years. (Not that there numbers have diminished all that much.) Still, having read some works of each contender, I think John much more nearly matches my understanding of Christianity. The Dark Night of the Soul was wonderful assurance for me when I needed it greatly.

  11. Susan Fiore's Gravatar Susan Fiore
    March 21, 2014 - 8:38 am | Permalink

    Both of these nominees were extremists; maybe all saints are. But if I must choose between extremisms, I vote for building monasteries rather than destroying them, for writing about union with God rather than working to create divisions between people.

    • patricia's Gravatar patricia
      March 21, 2014 - 9:36 am | Permalink

      thanks for this eloquent comparison of today’s nominees, carla. i agree.

    • Verdery's Gravatar Verdery
      March 21, 2014 - 11:56 am | Permalink

      Well put, Susan. Your comment reinforced my vote for John of the Cross. Ridley was (or at least seemed from the bio) just too proudly anti-Catholic, while John’s work and writing were humble and inspiring. (Besides, “Judge Eternal, Throned in Splendor” is a great hymn.)

  12. Carla's Gravatar Carla
    March 21, 2014 - 8:38 am | Permalink

    Willful persecution and destruction is unacceptable in any era. “Unburdened by theological depth” yet helped write BCP????

  13. Another Peg's Gravatar Another Peg
    March 21, 2014 - 8:38 am | Permalink

    I was drawn toward Nicholas for helping with the Book of Common Prayer, but when I got to the Catholic-bashing and altar crashing, “yeah” turn “meh” and then “feh.” On the other hand, John faced one tribulation after another and kept reaching out to God, writing volumes that helped generations make their way through that same darkness into light. This you’s for Juan.

  14. Madeleine Baier's Gravatar Madeleine Baier
    March 21, 2014 - 8:40 am | Permalink

    Easiest vote so far! John of the cross resonates with me in that one “can have joy and peace in the midst of dire circumstances.” Trust me on this one.He’s right!!

  15. Will Bergmann's Gravatar Will Bergmann
    March 21, 2014 - 8:42 am | Permalink

    Wow! Looks like Ridley’s getting burned right out of the box.

  16. Emily Correll's Gravatar Emily Correll
    March 21, 2014 - 8:43 am | Permalink

    Creation versus destruction. John wins my vote. Now if it had been Latimer, it might have been different.

  17. Another Peg's Gravatar Another Peg
    March 21, 2014 - 8:44 am | Permalink

    P.S. I’m Another Peg today because I there is already a Peg making comments.

  18. Mary Ann's Gravatar Mary Ann
    March 21, 2014 - 8:45 am | Permalink

    Very Easy this time around. Although Nicholas Ridley did much for the Anglican church, I cannot support his persecution of Catholics. Yes, he was a product of his times, but again too many people died because of his beliefs.

  19. Patsy's Gravatar Patsy
    March 21, 2014 - 8:50 am | Permalink

    Well, I was sure I was voting for Ridley until I read the two bios. Ridley didn’t come across as much of a Christian or a saint to me. I am sad about the destruction of the monasteries and the losses of sacred sites.

  20. Anne's Gravatar Anne
    March 21, 2014 - 8:51 am | Permalink

    “Unburdened by theological depth” vs John of the Cross? No question.

  21. MaurineRuby's Gravatar MaurineRuby
    March 21, 2014 - 8:51 am | Permalink

    I’m breaking my own bracket. I thought I would vote for Ridley, but I had this nagging feeling (leftover from my studies of the Tudors) that he wasn’t someone I admired. After reading the biography, I remembered why. I’m happy that he contributed to the dear BCP, but I think he was really quite the opportunist. His participation in the dissolution of the monasteries (a supreme tragedy in English history, I think), and declaring Mary and Elizabeth to be illegitimate were not saintly actions, in my book.

    To my surprise, I’m voting for Juan as well!

    • Martie Collins's Gravatar Martie Collins
      March 21, 2014 - 8:49 pm | Permalink

      And he threw Lady Jane Grey under the bus!

  22. March 21, 2014 - 8:57 am | Permalink

    John of the Cross all the way! I taught a Sunday school class on the tradition of doubt within the faith last year, and he was one of my headliners; it’s so good to see him here in the brackets. (Also, there’s a great setting of his “Dark Night of the Soul” by Loreena McKennitt, if you’ve never heard it:

    And corruption by the SEC? Never! I might be more worried about our dearly beloved commentator Archbishop Cranmer and his work with Ridley for this one…

  23. Michelle's Gravatar Michelle
    March 21, 2014 - 8:57 am | Permalink

    I find it difficult to vote for a man who rails against wicked harlots.

  24. Kathleen Sheehy's Gravatar Kathleen Sheehy
    March 21, 2014 - 8:59 am | Permalink

    St. John responded in a Christ-like way to his persecution at the hands of his own supposed fellow believers. Ridley, on the other hand, set himself up as judge and jury. I’m sure I’ll meet Ridley in heaven, but for now, he strikes me as more of a model of behavior to avoid than to emulate!

  25. Phil Harrington's Gravatar Phil Harrington
    March 21, 2014 - 9:08 am | Permalink

    Amen to the guy who leads us to bare our soles!
    Shoes off to John!

    • Lindsay Graves's Gravatar Lindsay Graves
      March 21, 2014 - 10:35 am | Permalink

      As a footnote, I applaud your feat of pun-dum.


      • John Robison's Gravatar John Robison
        March 21, 2014 - 4:39 pm | Permalink

        Both of you, get thee to a Punnery …

        • Another Peg's Gravatar Another Peg
          March 21, 2014 - 5:55 pm | Permalink

          Yes! Toe the line!

          • VT Patty's Gravatar VT Patty
            March 21, 2014 - 9:43 pm | Permalink

            Oh, my! You are all funny, or is that punny?

  26. Jo Meachem's Gravatar Jo Meachem
    March 21, 2014 - 9:08 am | Permalink

    Oh, myyyyyy! That phrase appears destined to live on in infamy! Some few have actually voted for poor Nicholas – will none rise to defend him (and their votes)?

  27. madamesenora's Gravatar madamesenora
    March 21, 2014 - 9:11 am | Permalink

    The early history of the Anglican movement is rife with persecution of those whose hearts would not permit them to follow the party line. No Ridley for me, thank you very much.

  28. Tessa Lucero's Gravatar Tessa Lucero
    March 21, 2014 - 9:15 am | Permalink

    This may be the first time in the long and esteemed history of Lent Madness that in a first round matchup between one who was executed for the faith and one who died naturally the martyr is being kicked to the curb.

  29. Betsey's Gravatar Betsey
    March 21, 2014 - 9:15 am | Permalink

    wow .. “supported the dissolution of the monasteries and was fierce in his assault on religious imagery..” The other saint’s biography was going to have to be very dismal before I could give a vote to Nicholas.

    I appreciate that Nicholas did valuable work to be honored on the calendar, and I remind myself to remember that we all have feet of clay, but these feet are definitely walking over to give a vote to John.

  30. Carol Virginia's Gravatar Carol Virginia
    March 21, 2014 - 9:32 am | Permalink

    Upon rereading both bios several times, I choose the effective proactivism of Bishop Ridley. I liked the biographers assertion/conclusion that he was unburdened by depth of
    theology. Bravo. He was moved to passionate conviction regarding spirituality–that of individuals and that of the Church. I view that as I do ethical behavior transcendimg man made legal imperatives. God’s laws as we are made to understand them, should prevail. And, good grief, now we have the BCP for comfort and guidance beside the Holy Bible and the Hymnal. If we say he was flawed,
    we must acknowledge he was a man, and one of his time. But he was a great one, and worthy of sainthood.

  31. Michele Quinn's Gravatar Michele Quinn
    March 21, 2014 - 9:33 am | Permalink

    Talk about a 2nd burning. Ridley is being burned again in the 21st century! If one looks more closely at the history, one can’t help but see that the celebrity blogger has a very negative opinion of Mr. Ridley. So consider, he was chaplain to both Cranmer and Henry VIII, part of the committee that wrote the first Book of Common Prayer, and great friends with Latimer and Cranmer. Here are a few quotes from “Stars in a Dark World” (a book I just discovered through Lent Madness).

    Latimer, Ridley, and Cranmer were then all transferred to Bocardo Prison in Oxford, and, intending it to increase their discomfort, the jailers put the three martyrs in a single room. The prisoners found it wonderful to be together and supported each other. The jailer commented : “Latimer leans on Cranmer, Cranmer leans on Ridley, and Ridley leans on his own wit.” And so Bishop Ridley was removed and placed in isolation in a private building, and was only re-united with Latimer when they came to the stake. They were the first two of nearly three hundred reformers who were charged with treason and burned at the stake on the orders of Bloody Queen Mary. Augustus Toplady, the author of “Rock of Ages” later wrote: “[ Ridley] was esteemed the most learned of all English reformers: and was inferior to none of them in piety, sanctity, and clearness of evangelical light.” Heaton and Baxter wrote; “He was a star of the first magnitude, in any age. Honorable birth, a commanding form, superior learning, a generous spirit, sound judgment, united with unremitting industry, and all sanctified by an entire devotedness to the honor of God, gave to Ridley a degree of personal influence possessed by no other [reformer], probably not even Cranmer.”

    Julian OJN, Fr John (2013-11-11). Stars in a Dark World: Stories of the Saints and Holy Days of the Liturgy (Kindle Locations 14810-14815). . Kindle Edition.

    Without any hesitation or doubt I cast my vote for an English reformer and not a Spanish mystic.

  32. Beth's Gravatar Beth
    March 21, 2014 - 9:35 am | Permalink

    Totally agree with the comments here. “Unburdened by theological depth” was amusing, but the clincher was the anti-woman language he used to describe the Catholic church: a “devilish drab” and “wicked harlot” with “manifold abominations” –really? Hate the Catholic church all you want, but leave women out of it!!

  33. Brendan O.'s Gravatar Brendan O.
    March 21, 2014 - 9:35 am | Permalink

    John of the Cross has long been one of my very favorite saints, and the Dark Night of the Soul is probably my second-favorite spiritual writing (after the more hopeful showings of Julian of Norwich). An easy vote for me today.

  34. Jennifer's Gravatar Jennifer
    March 21, 2014 - 9:35 am | Permalink

    I was about to vote for Nicholas because of his use of big words but when I read that John walked over 30,000 miles, as a hiker, I had to support his cause.

  35. Victor of Sturbridge's Gravatar Victor of Sturbridge
    March 21, 2014 - 9:36 am | Permalink

    The Martyrs’ Monument in Oxford honors Ridley, Latimer, and Cranmer. (In my opinion, today’s bio of Ridley is unfairly slanted, but that’s the writer’s privilege.) And today, 21 March, commemorates the burning of Cranmer in 1556. On this date, at least in some years, people lay flowers on the brick cross in Broad Street that marks the spot of the martyrdoms (I among them, when in town). Sadly, for some of us, Cranmer’s martyrdom coincides with the birthday of another of this year’s entrants, Johann Sebastian Bach!

    • March 21, 2014 - 10:00 am | Permalink

      Seeing that spot – one of my first brushes with reformation theology as a teen – began to open my eyes to a whole new world. Lay a flower for me sometime.

  36. Ann Fleming's Gravatar Ann Fleming
    March 21, 2014 - 9:36 am | Permalink

    Mysticism, and the doubt essential to faith–John of the Cross all the way!

  37. Peter Miscall's Gravatar Peter Miscall
    March 21, 2014 - 9:37 am | Permalink

    I have to vote for Ridley. Read other sources than the smear job done in this write-up. This is the last time I’ll trust these summaries.

  38. Rev. Lucy Porter's Gravatar Rev. Lucy Porter
    March 21, 2014 - 9:40 am | Permalink

    I just have to vote for St. John of the Cross, a Christian mystic who is one of my tutors in the faith. (though it is unsafe to walk barefoot in NYC or its suburbs)

  39. March 21, 2014 - 9:54 am | Permalink

    I believe God uses all forms of worship (high and low, liturgical or not) to meet us as we are and lift us up. Theology, context, culture and even our personality can determine what speaks to us best. In any direction, we as humans can become extreme or too rigid thinking worship has to be one type or it isn’t worship. We can let high, liturgical church become almost idolatrous and low, non-liturgical church become like entertainment. I think partly due to his context and temperament that old Nicholas went to an extreme, but he can still challenge us to consider why we do what we do. I appreciate his desire to live out his understanding of scripture and critique of excesses of his time. His associated work developing Anglican worship still blesses many in the world. Still, I voted for the mystic. Post-Reformation, John shares a heritage Luther (as well as I and many) have benefited from. (To learn about how the mystic tradition impacted Luther, I recommend “Theology of the Heart” by Bengt Hoffman and “The Theologia Germanica of Martin Luther (Classics of Western Spirituality).”) The Dark Night of the Soul might differ in some details with Protestant understandings, but it remains a classic work that can help many encounter Christ more deeply. Come to think of it, God used both of these imperfect and quite different saints to ultimately aid us in that regard.

  40. Lauren Stanley's Gravatar Lauren Stanley
    March 21, 2014 - 9:55 am | Permalink

    I found today’s bio of Nicholas Ridley to be far too negative, both to Mr. Ridley and the Roman Church. I know the Supreme Executive Committee is devoted to freedom of the press, and gives themLent Madness writers free rein in their writings, but did someone forget to tell Mr. Ridley’s biographer that the goal was to get Mr. Ridley the Golden Halo, and not the golden boot out of the bracket? Is this yet another attempt by the SEC to control the outcome by allowing a negativity-laden bio out to the world? Do we have another scandal, with the SEC attempting to influence who makes it to the next round? Will Lent Madness 2014 be forever known as scandal-plagued??? (Seriously, the bio missed the point of advancing Ridley, and made some very cutting remarks … Not nice.)

    • March 21, 2014 - 11:03 am | Permalink

      I have to agree that the bio on Ridley did little to actual advocate for the man.

    • Betsey's Gravatar Betsey
      March 21, 2014 - 12:04 pm | Permalink

      I’ve been re-reading the bio for Nicholas. To start, he was executed (could be read martyred) and also helped with the BCP. It can be seen why he’d be on a calendar of saints.

      The bio continues with facts. Things that Nicholas said/did/wrote are facts. It is not that the CB wrote negatively about Nicholas, it’s more that _I_ reacted negatively to Nicholas.

      I can still admire some of what Nicholas did, but having stood in the ruins of some abbeys and feel like they are still holy places, it’s simply Nicholas’ own actions that won’t allow me to vote for him in this saintly smack down.

      Don’t forget: No matter who advances in this silly, mad, bit of fun, they All already have a halo.

  41. Lauren Stanley's Gravatar Lauren Stanley
    March 21, 2014 - 9:56 am | Permalink

    Sorry for the typo: my comment should read “gives the Lent Madness writers …”

    • Katherine Grimes's Gravatar Katherine Grimes
      March 21, 2014 - 11:31 am | Permalink

      I liked “them” better.

  42. March 21, 2014 - 9:57 am | Permalink

    At note to the SEC: please check the bias of your Celebrity Bloggers before assigning them to saints. This one clearly hates his assigned saint ‘way too much to be even neutral! Sorry, Mr Cranmer, but your compatriot seems to have nothing whatsoever to recommend him. ‘For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you bear it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer, you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.’ – I Peter 2:20.

  43. Elaine Hood Culver's Gravatar Elaine Hood Culver
    March 21, 2014 - 10:14 am | Permalink

    John of the Cross, hands down. Ridley’s dissolution of the monasteries and destruction of the images (I’m a devout iconodule, and John of Damascus is my Main Saint) ripped it for me.

  44. Bridget's Gravatar Bridget
    March 21, 2014 - 10:22 am | Permalink

    Ridley was vicar of my parish in Cambridgeshire, although we are told there is no evidence of him ever actually visiting the place. So not only ‘unburdened by theological depth’ but also unhampered by pastoral responsibility. St John of the Cross gets my vote!

    • Carol Virginia's Gravatar Carol Virginia
      March 21, 2014 - 10:46 am | Permalink

      So, “lack of evidence” of a Cambridgeshire visit substantiates a fact for you? I’ll bet he’s innocent, but that’s in light of the doubt that is necessitated by Faith! 🙂 At least the alternative has merit, too! And so do you, I’m sure. 😉

  45. Carol Virginia's Gravatar Carol Virginia
    March 21, 2014 - 10:53 am | Permalink

    I mean to say alternative VOTE…

  46. March 21, 2014 - 11:00 am | Permalink

    I had to think about this one. John of the Cross is certainly one of my favorites. Reading about his life, and how it shaped his writings, gives me greater appreciation for him. But as I sat with this, I realized that my inner rebel felt drawn to Nicholas Ridley. Reading more on the death of Ridley and Latimer, and how Ridley’s death was particularly agonizing because of the wood being too young and not dry enough, and how slowly his body was consumed in the flames, made me appreciate him more for his calling out to God in the hour of his horrible death. And today, we celebrate his prayer book compatriot, Thomas Cranmer, also martyred under Bloody Mary. I see from the comments and the score that I am on the losing end of the scale on this, and I won’t be sorry to see John of the Cross move on. But I am siding with the passionate protestant reformer.

  47. Elizabeth Carey's Gravatar Elizabeth Carey
    March 21, 2014 - 11:07 am | Permalink

    30,000 miles with no shoes! Wow.

  48. LauraG's Gravatar LauraG
    March 21, 2014 - 11:25 am | Permalink

    I have to say that as usual I am with the underdog. I am always swayed by ‘actions’ even though many of our saints have written and prayed so eloquently. I consider Ridley in the context of the historic times in which he lived. And yes, I wish so much of history had not been destroyed, but he died a horrible death for his faith. His being ‘unburdened by theological depth’ made me laugh out loud! A vote for the Anglican it is.

  49. Jean-Pierre Seguin's Gravatar Jean-Pierre Seguin
    March 21, 2014 - 11:36 am | Permalink

    Juan de la Cruz easily beats Nicholas Ridley for me. A poet, mystic, and long-suffering reformer is better than a haranguing and deeply divisive bishop who just happened to be burned at the stake for his actions. While both saints lived in times of corruption, decay, and strife, Juan de la Cruz responded with an insistent yearning for and trust in God and compassion for his opponents. Also, he was willing to follow Teresa’s lead and work with her on as a compatriot, so he gets another point there.

  50. Millie Ericson's Gravatar Millie Ericson
    March 21, 2014 - 11:38 am | Permalink

    Too bad Aelred was defeated yesterday for I suspect without him, Merton would not have been the monk he was. Hopefully, the monk will win out today, though neither extremists are very appealing to me. I sort of want to quote The Cat in the Hat, “I don’t like it! No! Not one little bit,” in response to today’s choice!

  51. Lindsey McLennan's Gravatar Lindsey McLennan
    March 21, 2014 - 11:44 am | Permalink

    Reading Nicholas Ridley’s bio reminds me, as Merton reminded me yesterday, that good can come out of things that we consider awful–persecution, abandoning a one-night-stand and the resulting child, even to the more “mild” negative aspects of our lives and character. (you may read that “mild” in air-quotes, if you’d like.) I voted for Juan de la Cruz, but I’m glad we have the example of Ridley to remind us that God redeems us and our actions when we fall short.

    With that being said, “unburdened with theological depth” brought a slow, not-so-kind grin to my face. Fantastic rhetoric (especially when concluded with the rest of that phrase) that painted a vivid picture in my mind. Will be adding this one to the books.

  52. aleathia (dolores)nicholson's Gravatar aleathia (dolores)nicholson
    March 21, 2014 - 11:59 am | Permalink

    It’s not always best to read the comments before voting, especially since the bios seem to be slanted in favor of the biographer’s choices. Ultimately, the “Dark Night of the Soul” was the determinant for me having suffered more of those than I care to remember…BUT..they brought me across, thus my vote for the mystic. Intellect does not always equate with faith as we should know when attending our own diocesan conventions and even General Convention. Ridley was the product of his time and believe me, there have been and are worse!

  53. Anne E.B.'s Gravatar Anne E.B.
    March 21, 2014 - 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Easy peasey. John of the Cross. I grew TIRED of Ridley and his blah blah blah. He was against everything, wasn’t he? John seems deeply sensitive, spiritual man.

  54. Alene's Gravatar Alene
    March 21, 2014 - 12:07 pm | Permalink

    I’m positive that Ridley, who was against the veneration of saints, would not want to be part of this bracket any longer than necessary. St John gets my vote.

  55. Deborah E's Gravatar Deborah E
    March 21, 2014 - 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Have to go with the man who could follow the direction of a woman. St. John was ahead of his time.

  56. Michelle's Gravatar Michelle
    March 21, 2014 - 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Cross between John of the Cross or Ridley? That’s a no-brainer

  57. Jim Bimbi's Gravatar Jim Bimbi
    March 21, 2014 - 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Reading today’s write up on Ridley was like listening to Sarah Palin describe Barack Obama’s qualifications to be President. I’m
    not saying that the assigned biographer has to gloss over some negative aspects of his or her subject, but come on – this was a set-up for defeat from the start. “Play the man,” master Ridley. I stand with you today in the face of such nefarious skulduggery.

  58. Carol's Gravatar Carol
    March 21, 2014 - 12:25 pm | Permalink

    In my earlier research I had read about Ridley and, while I realize that he was inflamed in his zeal for reform, I felt that he was more a politician than a clergyman. I much preferred Cranmer. Even Latimer seemed too political. Since Ridley was the one at issue today, I chose John of the Cross. His reforms, along with Teresa of Avila, seemed more in line with the teachings of Jesus.

  59. Will Bergmann's Gravatar Will Bergmann
    March 21, 2014 - 12:26 pm | Permalink

    “Unburdened by theological depth” and “unhampered by pastoral responsibility”? Nice work if you can get it. John of the Cross all the way, even if the authors of the biographies were not enamored of the riddle of Ridley. Burn baby burn…

  60. Louise's Gravatar Louise
    March 21, 2014 - 12:28 pm | Permalink

    I couldn’t help but see your comment Alene, as it was just above me opportunity to reply. I agree wholeheartedly! Although there is plenty to say about the dissolution of the monasteries and the impact Cranmer and his associates had on church history all I will say is that I found Ridley’s bio depressing; and John’s uplifting. If any of us has not at some point felt abandoned by God, we should consider ourselves lucky. John kept his faith in the midst of overwhelming lifetime trials. John of the Cross gets my vote!

  61. Judy Hoover's Gravatar Judy Hoover
    March 21, 2014 - 12:36 pm | Permalink

    I just could not vote for someone who supported abolishing the monasteries . I did really appreciate Nicholas removing the altars and putting in simple table. In the end, had to vote for John.

  62. Judy Hoover's Gravatar Judy Hoover
    March 21, 2014 - 12:36 pm | Permalink

    I just could not vote for someone who supported abolishing the monasteries . I did really appreciate Nicholas removing the altars and putting in simple table. In the end, had to vote for John.

  63. March 21, 2014 - 12:40 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Ridley – in part because his feast day is celebrated with Cramner and Latimer. But also, even though there were measures he took that I don’t hold with (destruction of religious imagery, doing away with altars, etc.), he was important to the struggle for the Reformation in England in the days when that was not at all a certainty.

  64. Glenis Elliott's Gravatar Glenis Elliott
    March 21, 2014 - 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Another interesting match up. After reading a few comments and re-reading the bio’s I went with my “gut” & voted for John.

  65. Mary Wueste's Gravatar Mary Wueste
    March 21, 2014 - 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps it was partly because of the “slant” of the write-up, but Ridley sounds awful! I was all ready to vote for him because he helped set up the church I love, but I just couldn’t. There are too many even today who use their “Christian Faith” as a weapon against others they don’t like for whatever reason. There’s a long, horrible tradition of that. Enough already!

  66. May's Gravatar May
    March 21, 2014 - 12:49 pm | Permalink

    My vote today was guided as much by who I’d like to learn more about as who I think deserves the Golden Halo. When reading the bios, I remind myself that something might be held back, in case of a future face-off.

  67. Ellen Tillotson's Gravatar Ellen Tillotson
    March 21, 2014 - 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Ridley also founded hospitals and centers for the poor in London, was an advocate for pastoral care for all people and, in short, embodied the best of Christianity and the best of the call to reform the Church around its core ideals.

    • Bonnee's Gravatar Bonnee
      March 21, 2014 - 2:59 pm | Permalink

      I agree that the profile was lacking in positive attributes such as those.

  68. kew's Gravatar kew
    March 21, 2014 - 12:58 pm | Permalink

    First thought: “An easy vote for John — no way I’d vote for Ridley”
    Second thought: “Okay, my very certainty tells me that there is an invitation here, to unseat my certainty and think again about Ridley.”
    Third thought — and vote: [still pending]….

    • Molly Reingruber's Gravatar Molly Reingruber
      March 21, 2014 - 1:35 pm | Permalink

      I love your posts kew, and some of the other comments have helped round out the Ridley bio. As much as I enjoy Lent Madness, I fear that soon I will not be able to find my favorite post-ers in this community (like you) if it gets much bigger. Ah well, the trade-off of growth…it’s a problem many churches wish they had!

  69. Harlie Youngblood's Gravatar Harlie Youngblood
    March 21, 2014 - 1:03 pm | Permalink

    I can see why today’s Blogger isn’t exactly in love with Nicholas Ridley. In an earlier post Jenny said that Ridley decided to “throw the baby out with the bathwater”. As a rabid Anglo-Catholic I have to say that’s exactly what he did. But if we dismiss Ridley for his mistakes then we, too, are throwing the baby out with the bath. His program of reform (in many ways sorely needed by the Church), his contribution to the Book of Common Prayer (a priceless gift to the Church), and his willingness to die for Jesus wins my vote.

    • Another Peg's Gravatar Another Peg
      March 21, 2014 - 1:37 pm | Permalink

      It’s comments like this that make me glad to be a Madnessian.

      • Harlie Youngblood's Gravatar Harlie Youngblood
        March 21, 2014 - 1:41 pm | Permalink

        “Madnessian”. I like it!

  70. March 21, 2014 - 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Today’s vote was a “no-brainer” for me. I have read and inwardly digested the words of St John of the Cross since I was introduced to him in Confirmation Class by a very wise curate who understood my search for God. As another person wrote, Ridley was a reformer but he did “throw the baby out with the bathwater” . Destroying the monasteries, centers of learning, did not really help the Church.

  71. James Goodmann's Gravatar James Goodmann
    March 21, 2014 - 1:26 pm | Permalink

    With John of the Cross – bright light of poetic sanity, “My beloved, the mountains; the solitary, wooded valleys, the strange islands, the sonorous rivers,. The whisper of amorous breezes, the tranquil night.
    At the time of the rising of the dawn, the silent music, the sounding solitude, the supper that revives and enkindles love.” Spiritual Canticle (EA Peers, trans.)

  72. Molly Reingruber's Gravatar Molly Reingruber
    March 21, 2014 - 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps there would be benefit next year of CBs sharing with each other their first drafts of saint summaries? Seems to me that you need to know not only what your are presenting, but possible persuasion tactics of other authors. Of course, I’m sure the CBs aren’t in the least bit protective of their assigned saints, or competitive in any way.

    • Glenis Elliott's Gravatar Glenis Elliott
      March 21, 2014 - 3:24 pm | Permalink

      First thought, What is a Madnessian? Second thought, maybe comparing bios’s would be a good idea for the Celebrity Bloggers. Third thought, keeping something back in original bio’s is not a bad idea since there should be something to give out as the Saint’s move forward in the brackets.

      • Another Peg's Gravatar Another Peg
        March 21, 2014 - 3:57 pm | Permalink

        I meant it as a name for a member of the Lent Madness community. “Lent Madperson”–too much like business as usual for moi– “Lent Maniac”–maybe, but not descriptive of all involved, particularly these very civil and thoughtful commenters and bloggers who exchange opinions and information unleavened by snark. So… Madnessians. As in Lent Madnessians. As in, this very interesting and stimulating community illuminating the Web. P.S., I think you’re quite right about bloggers needing to save something for future rounds.

  73. dr.primrose's Gravatar dr.primrose
    March 21, 2014 - 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Dark Night of the Soul can be a very helpful book for people as they grow in faith. One of John’s main teachings was that beginning Christians often depend on their emotional feelings about God’s presense in their lives. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, of course.

    But as we grow in faith, John says, we often feel that God is withdrawing from us. God is doing this so that we learn to trust in God alone, not only in our feelings about God and our perceived experiences of God, which can be, at the extreme, very self-centered (and not God-centered) and almost an idol in place of the real God.

    I’m not at the level of spiritual development that John was writing about, a true Dark Night of the Soul (which, he says, occurs at a very high level of spiritual development). But his teaching has been very helpful for me in trying to trust in God and not in my feelings and perceptions about God.

  74. zazzsu's Gravatar zazzsu
    March 21, 2014 - 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Lent Madness has given me some calm in the midst of turmoil the past few days. Having my apartment flooded by the actions of the man upstairs (a mortal) I have needed the time to reflect on what the saints have given! I wish there was a ‘like’ button for the comments for so many have spoken to me. Today I vote for the underdog as I so often do.

    • Katherine's Gravatar Katherine
      March 21, 2014 - 3:57 pm | Permalink

      If some Roman Catholic prayers for you in your flooded apartment (and for the man upstairs too) would be of any comfort, you’ve got ’em. So sorry to hear of your troubles.

  75. Chris's Gravatar Chris
    March 21, 2014 - 2:43 pm | Permalink

    I am a big an of Ridley, but anyone who assaulted the concept of saints should not be burdened by winning in a competition of saints so my vote goes to St John of the Cross.

  76. Paul Kelley's Gravatar Paul Kelley
    March 21, 2014 - 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Having also been taught by the Jesuits I naturally favored John of the Cross but the story of his life also convinced and I find it hard to understand how his fellow Carmelites could have beaten and imprisoned him. It was interesting to learn about Ridley but his passion was too extreme for me. I feel blessed to live in a more tolerant age

  77. Ray's Gravatar Ray
    March 21, 2014 - 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Could one write a more unattractive biography of Nicholas Ridley?

  78. Brigid Courtney's Gravatar Brigid Courtney
    March 21, 2014 - 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Sorry Ridley, you are just not my cup of tea. St. John of the Cross it is…

  79. Katherine's Gravatar Katherine
    March 21, 2014 - 3:54 pm | Permalink

    You folks are so amazingly fair to us Roman Catholics. I don’t know that I could be as understanding and forgiving of many of the sins and failings of the RC Church. You really are going to convert me before all’s said and done. That said, I did vote for Juan de la Cruz — not for his theology but for is truly wonderful poetry and his friendship with Big Teresa.

  80. Martha Frances's Gravatar Martha Frances
    March 21, 2014 - 4:11 pm | Permalink

    It’s perfectly ok for parishioners to be “unburdened by theological depth” & Ridley was certainly overly-influenced by his times, but I’ve never been very excited by the Protestant reformers, either in the Anglican Communion or further from Rome. Wonder what part of the BCP Ridley was responsible for? Perhaps the service on the Churching of Women? At any rate, mystics & San Juan get my vote this time.

  81. Susan's Gravatar Susan
    March 21, 2014 - 5:35 pm | Permalink

    My NCAA team didn’t win today. (We are forbidden to use the four letter “L” word in my house when it applies to my team and basketball). At least the outcome of the saint I voted for today is more hopeful. But he’s still dead. I’m accepting condolences for the dead saint and the team that didn’t win. At least LM will keep my spirits up for the next few weeks!

  82. Blair Bickford's Gravatar Blair Bickford
    March 21, 2014 - 5:42 pm | Permalink

    St. John of the Cross from the inspiration…Nicholas Ridley not so much…Learned more from all the comments…thank you so much!!

  83. March 21, 2014 - 5:51 pm | Permalink

    I have to go with John of the Cross, because his sketches were the inspiration for one of my favorite paintings of the crucifixion, Salvador Dalí’s Christ of Saint John of the Cross:

    • Zoe Holland's Gravatar Zoe Holland
      March 21, 2014 - 6:46 pm | Permalink

      Me, too. I had that picture in the entry way of our home in 1967. I was also reading, “It Was a Dark and Stormy Night
      Of the Soul,” at the time.

  84. Leslie Littlefield's Gravatar Leslie Littlefield
    March 21, 2014 - 7:28 pm | Permalink

    I cannot pass up a good poet…

  85. Nana lyn's Gravatar Nana lyn
    March 21, 2014 - 8:42 pm | Permalink

    Let us be rid of the ridleys, fanatacism is always dangerous

  86. Julie McCord's Gravatar Julie McCord
    March 21, 2014 - 10:50 pm | Permalink

    Well, okay: as a lover of theological depth, mystics, altars, monasteries, and Carmelites…my vote is clear.

  87. Ann Willis Scott's Gravatar Ann Willis Scott
    March 21, 2014 - 11:44 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad I didn’t have to invite either of them for dinner…particularly Nick. I don’t have much against John, but I don’t let my kids eat dinner barefoot, so why let him? I’ve had a long day…

  88. Ginny Rodriguez's Gravatar Ginny Rodriguez
    March 22, 2014 - 1:49 am | Permalink

    St John of the Cross was perhaps an introvert who shared his personal, spiritual difficulties. Admirable that he helped others understand the Dark Night of the Soul. Ridley’s work was certainly valuable, the BCP, for example, but “re-arranging” church furniture (and everything else) remains dangerous to this day. Voted for St John

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